JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After facing scrutiny for turning off the rainbow lights during Pride Month last year, Jacksonville Transportation Authority is ensuring residents that the lighting plan is on track for next week.
Between June 6 and June 12, JTA will light Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge in rainbow colors to recognize June as Pride Month.
The same decision last year prompted the Florida Department of Transportation to tell the city that the rainbow lighting scheme was “out of compliance,” prompting JTA to extinguish the lights.
The News4JAX I-TEAM uncovered records showing that the transportation department made the decision to alert JTA after the office fielded five phone calls from Jacksonville citizens complaining about the lights.
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A day later, after intense public outcry from LGBTQ rights activists, the state reversed its decision and the pride lights were turned back on.
News4Jax asked the Florida Department of Transportation on Friday if there would be any compliance issues this year, but did not receive an immediate reply.
Equality Florida activists hosted a pride march across the Acosta Bridge last year to protest the controversial decision by the state.
This year, those same activists are making that march an annual tradition and hosting another one on Sunday, June 12.
Cindy Nobles leads the Jacksonville chapter of PFLAG, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. She says celebrating Pride Month is a city-wide recognition that’s important for everyone.
“It shows that we are moving toward inclusivity and acceptance for everyone and that’s going to make this a better city,” Nobles said.
Nobles recalls the city’s decision to turn off the lights last year as “very disheartening.”
“Of all the months to choose to have an issue with the color scheme. It felt very targeted, and it was upsetting, but they fixed it. They rectified it and we’re trying to move past it this year,” Nobles said.
Although the State of Florida has faced many challenges this year when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, for Nobles, the bridge lights next week will serve as a signal that progress is still underway.
“For me as a parent, I am a parent of a fantastic LGBTQ+ kid, and I will bring him past here to look at this bridge and let him know that he is being celebrated for who he is,” said Nobles.